Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

10 Ellul 5761 - August 29, 2001 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








Produced and housed by
Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network

Opinion & Comment
Observations: Religious Zionism Addresses Attitude Toward "Chareidi Culture"

by B. Schwartz

Recently a debate on a highly original question has been hashed out on the pages of national-religious newspaper, Hatzofe: With whom does religious Zionism share a greater common language and who should it favor: the secular sector or the chareidi sector?

On Tisha B'Av Hatzofe published an article by Hillel Appelbaum, who singularly declared that he feels a greater affinity toward people from the national-religious sector who abandoned Torah and mitzvos than toward those who chose to join the chareidi camp. Writes Appelbaum: "I once wrote an article in which I asked why our attitude toward our children who join the secular culture is better than our attitude towards our children who join the chareidi culture. The truth is that I have yet to find an answer to this question. But over the years a number of things have become clear to me. Perhaps I should lay everything out on the table. There is no way to establish a state -- or even a city -- with the chareidim."

Although secular Zionism, he writes, is not an ideal partner with whom to set up the Jewish state since Torah does not light their way, "but still, at least with secular Zionism it is possible to establish a State." He tries to emphasize that "there is some similarity between the concepts of religious Zionism and modern Zionism. Zionism means a state, and a state means progress and development. It would be inconceivable to imagine a state based on limiting general education."

The article stirred almost no reaction. It seems that unfortunately many of the newspaper's readers identify with this distorted view. The only person to write an appropriate response was Yehoshua Kampinsky, principal of the religious high school seminary in Ramat Gan. He begins by writing that the opening of coffeehouses in various cities on Tisha B'av was a clear sign of the general public's indifference to the Destruction of the Temple.

"This phenomenon serves as an indication of the great fragmentation taking place in education here in our renewed state. Along with mourning for the Destruction of the Temple, perhaps we should also mourn the destruction of our youth, who have been raised in the land of the Jews and yet are the victims of Western assimilation, which makes its way into every home via modern communication devices. Every boy and girl who is not raised on the culture of the past has no chance for a Jewish future and for the continuation of Jewish culture. On Tisha B'Av itself Hillel Appelbaum, in the newspaper of religious Zionism, wrote that as far as he is concerned, `secular culture' is better than `base chareidi culture' (as he puts it).

Which secular culture does Appelbaum want to be a part of: the culture that scorns kodshei Yisrael and the historical?

Kampinsky stresses that "with all of the criticism and the differences separating the chareidim from religious Zionism, it should be clear that a religious person's foremost connection is with those who are tied to Torah and mitzvos and with those who use the Shulchan Aruch to light the way. The attitude toward a son who joins secular culture should resemble the attitude towards a `wayward son,' while the attitude towards a son who joins the chareidi camp should resemble the attitude toward a son who keeps Torah and mitzvot, but whose attitude toward the State and toward science is different.

"A chareidi is not a `wayward son.' He is tied to the past, we pray with him, eat in his home, live with him. Anyone who is involved in education based on the tenets of religious Zionism must make this clear to all of his or her students."

He goes on to quote the words of religious Zionism's leading figure, Rav A. Y. Kook zt'l, who wrote "With all my heart and soul I feel a great love for all creatures, and a greater love for humanity, and a greater love for bnei Yisroel, a slightly more sacred love for yir'ei Hashem and even more for talmidei chachomin." The writer lets the words speak for themselves, and does not explicate the painful conclusion: several of his leader's talmidei chochomim turned their rebbe's words around, choosing to love porkei ol and to despise talmidei chochomim.

All material on this site is copyrighted and its use is restricted.
Click here for conditions of use.